Sauce (makes about 1 cups):
1 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 Tablespoon Calabrian chili paste, can substitute 1 tsp red chili flakes
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup bottled clam juice
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 dozen (about 2 1/2 pounds) littleneck clams, scrubbed, can substitute Manila clams
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, if necessary
Cook Sausage: In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Remove the casing from the sausage and discard. Add the sausage to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, break the sausage up as much as possible and cook until browned, crispy and crumbled, about 7 minutes. A golden crust will form on the bottom of the pan, do not burn it. Transfer sausage to bowl. Reserve the pan and fat for next step.
Chop and Cook Aromatics: Finely chop the onion and slice the garlic. Chop the parsley and set aside for garnish later. In the same sauté pan with the sausage fat, add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the chili and tomato paste and cook for one more minute, don’t burn the pan. Add the sausage back into the pan, mix well. Turn heat off until ready to finish sauce.
Steam Clams: In a Dutch oven or large pot with lid, combine the wine, clam juice, and bay leaf. Add the clams to the pan, bring to a boil, and cover. Once boiling, steam clams until they open, about 3 minutes. Remove the clams as they open onto a sheet pan. Discard any clams that did not open.
Finish Sauce: Turn heat under sausage back up to medium high. With a fine mesh strainer, strain clam cooking liquid into a bowl. Pour only half of this clam cooking liquid into the sausage as to avoid any grit from the clams getting into the finished sauce. Discard the rest of the cooking liquid. Bring sauce up to a boil and scrape all brown bits up from the pan into the sauce. Reduce sauce for about 5 minutes. Turn heat off and add the chopped parsley. Taste, and add the salt, only if needed. The clams have a lot of natural salt.
Serve: Tear off the empty half of the clamshell. Loosen the clam from each shell. Make sure any random clams get put into a half shell. Place the clams in the half shell on a platter.
Spoon a teaspoon or so of the sauce into each clam. Wipe rim of platter and serve warm.
Recipe created by Parties That Cook®
Makes 30-35 pieces